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Fast food workers strike goes national from NY

This is really awesome:

Thousands of fast food workers were due to go on strike in cities across the US on Monday as part of a campaign for better wages.

Employees of selected branches of McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and Wendy's will walk out at various points throughout the day. The Fast Food Forward campaign is calling for workers to receive a minimum of $15 per hour, more than double the federal minimum wage.

"A lot of the workers are living in poverty, you know, not being able to afford to put food on the table or take the train to work," Jonathan Westin, director of Fast Food Forward, told New York's 1010 WINS radio station.

"The workers are striking over the fact that they can't continue to maintain their families on the wages they're being paid in the fast food industry."

Fast Food Forward began as a New York-specific campaign, but has spread across the country as workers campaign for better pay. Walkouts will be held in Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, St Louis, Kansas City, and Flint, Michigan, as well as New York City. Earlier this month, New York City workers walked out of a McDonald's after they were forced to work in record-high temperatures without air conditioning.

Really good news, for a change!

It would be even better news if their site had an About page. I don't want to get sucked in to some Democratic front group. From the Privacy Policy:

This site is a collaborative effort by various organizations identified on the site, and is operated by the Fast Food Workers Committee at 2 – 4 Nevins St., 2nd Floor Brooklyn, NY 11217. Inquiries should be addressed to info@fastfoodfoward.org.

UPDATE Adding, yes the SEIU is doing some funding: The same crowd who brought us ObamaCare, and did special damage by funding bloggers to push the [so-called] public option. So let's hope they've learned some sort of lesson, and this isn't another roach motel for progressive energy, culminating in betrayal. Salon (2013):

Katelyn Johnson, the executive director of the community organizing group Action Now, said she expects a strike that “really shakes up business as usual for downtown.” Organizers expect the strikers to include employees of McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, Subway, Sears, Macy’s and Victoria’s Secret. The Chicago strike is spearheaded by Fight for 15, a campaign backed by organizations including Action Now and the Service Employees International Union. SEIU also provides funding for the New York City group Fast Food Forward, which brought 400 fast food workers out on strike three weeks ago. Both Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15 are collaborations between unions and community organizing groups.

Gothamist (December 2012):

Observers noted on Twitter last night that the protests were much larger than the protests in Times Square last Thursday. Organized by Fast Food Forward, which has been planning these strikes since early 2012, the protests are hoping to raise wages at McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Wendy's and other fast food establishments.

With the average fast food employee salary amounting to about $11,000 a year, the majority of these workers are struggling to provide for themselves and their families. Many are subsidizing their earnings with public assistance despite working full time. What the Times calls "The biggest wave of job actions in the history of America’s fast-food industry," hopes to create a union for these workers and raise wages to at least $15 an hour.

So far their efforts have been endorsed by multiple union leaders, including Mary Kay Henry, the president of SEIU (the Service Employees International Union) and John Fleming, the president of the Detective Investigator's Association. Fast Food Forward is hopeful that their creative organizing tactics may actually inspire some change in the industry.

I think it was Debs who said "Everything for the workers," so, yeah, good for the striker. But I don't like murky organizational structures or funding. Or Democratic front groups, for that matter.

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Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

Good catch on the potential roach-motel aspect. Though here the demands are what they are -- good wages, recognized unions, health care, etc. Unless SEIU plans to throw the workers under the bus on these terms -- which would be hard to imagine given the narrow/sharp focus of this groundswell -- seems like this movement can proceed to home base pretty safely.

Refreshing to read this comment, evoking inter-generational solidarity (for a change):

Derrick Langley, 27, who earns $7.25 an hour working at a KFC in midtown Manhattan, said the strike was "for respect".

"And for the kids that's coming up too. Everybody that's striking doesn't want them to have to go through the same troubles we went through."